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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Camp-starting Cougars get a few votes in coaches' poll

Here we go again. About ready to head over to Provo for BYU's first practice of the 2012 football season; Newcomers start at 3:30 p.m., and the entire team gets going at 4 p.m.

Just before BYU issued its annual pre-camp news release -- which seemingly always has a couple newsy tidbits -- the USA Today Preseason College Football Coaches Poll was released.

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BYU landed at No. 36 (if poll extended that far), with 10 votes. Among BYU opponents this year, Boise State is No. 22, Notre Dame is No. 24, Georgia Tech is No. 28 and Utah is No. 32

Looking back at football media day, if one theme surfaced from the players, it was the notion that they are going to be more physically fit this season. No more photos of big offensive linemen and their gut hanging out below their jersey, they said.

We will see in a couple of hours, I suppose.

I gathered a bunch of fitness comments from media day. Here you go:

Left defensive end Eathyn Manumaleuna, whose wife is expecting a baby boy in October:

"It is optional to come to offseason workouts. But the emphasis coaches have put on this upcoming season has really touched us, really energized us. So I think out of all the years that I have been here, this will be the healthiest team."

Manumaleuna on whether guys are in shape:

"I can see it in all the players already. I can see it in their workouts. I can see it in their demeanor. I know they are all hungry and want to get better. We are all trying to help ourselves to improve the team. We are all in it for the team."

Right defensive end Ian Dulan on whether he's ready after returning from a mission, then redshirting:

"I am so glad I did that. I mean, I wanted to play, my desire was there. But my body wasn't ready. You know how that goes with return missionaries -- they kind of come back and you have to re-train the body to do different movements and absorb a lot of stress. But I feel like I am back now and ready to play. It has been good. Russell [Tialavea] did the same thing too. At least I am not alone in that aspect. At least I had a redshirt year to come back and recover before my senior year.

I can barely remember what it felt like, since I haven't played in so long. You know, what it smelled like, tasted like."

Dulan on whether guys are in better shape:

"I have definitely seen that a lot. We have spruced up our training, and went to more emphasis on eating right and getting good nutrition, getting good rest. We have worked on mobility and movement. So we are working on a lot of things which have really helped out our program in reaching our goals as a team ... Eathyn Manumaleuna has definitely improved his cardio and his mentality. He's not ripped, though, because he still has that Poly gene in him."

Flex-end Marcus Mathews on how fitness is a priority this year:

"Oh yeah, definitely. With the hiring of the API guys, and the hiring of Dan Wilcox, the nutritionist, I feel like that's getting done. People are in better shape, getting in better training. It is more structured toward what we want to do -- and it is working."

Weakside linebacker Kyle Van Noy on the priorities in the offseason:

"A big priority is fitness, but with that comes an emphasis on having a proper diet. That's a big thing that we have all taken advantage of, since we've had it.

You can tell by looking at linemen that they are all looking more healthy. You can tell by looking at me and [Brandon] Ogletree that we are bigger and we are getting faster as well.

And our quarterback, Riley [Nelson], is looking better too. With fitness and watching what we are eating and how we are sleeping, it is all becoming a positive. We see the results of that, and we want more of it.

It is like playing college football. As a freshman you get that little piece of playing time and then you want more of it.

So I think that's the same thing with everything you do."

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